Contracting with public authorities? Here's what may change soon

There's plenty going on in the world of public procurement at the moment. Here's what you need to know:

EU procurement directives

On 19 September 2014, the government issued its consultation on how it is looking to transpose the new 'Public Sector Directive'.

When the Directive becomes part of UK law, public authorities will need to adhere to new rules when buying goods or services. The government is aiming to implement the new Directive for all procurements, except clinical services, earlier than the 2 years required by the European Union.

You need to be quick with your thoughts though: the consultation closes on 17 October 2014.

In the meantime, here's a table showing where the details for the procedures are set out in the old and new regulations:

Type of procedure: Public Contracts Regs 2006: Public Contracts Regs 2015:
Open procedure Reg 15 Reg 27
Restricted procedure Reg 16 Reg 28
Competitive procedure with negotiation/ negotiated procedure Reg 17 Reg 29
Competitive dialogue Reg 18 Reg 30
Innovation partnership No equivalent Reg 31

(After weeks of high-level discussions within the team, we have come to the conclusion that the name of the proposed regulations, the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, are a subtle clue as to when they are likely to become law. In other words, it is unlikely that they will be enacted before the end of this year as the government seemed to be suggesting a while back.)

Cybersecurity

Don't forget that new rules are in place tomorrow for businesses that wish to bid for some government contracts.

A summary of the CyberEssential's scheme is set out here and the requirements for basic technical protection from cyber attacks are set out here.

In essence, if your security consists of passwords such as 'password1', '123456' or even the more comprehensive '12345678' then you might have a bit of work to get on with. (PS You might want to avoid these too.)

https://twitter.com/cabinetofficeuk/status/515454949774594048

Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012

This 2012 Act requires public authorities to 'have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts'.

The Act currently applies only to service contracts over the EU thresholds, at the pre-procurement stage.

The government is, amongst other things, asking whether this should be extended, for instance, to cover contracts for goods and works as well as services. You can't have your say yet—boo!—but more information about how to contribute views to the review is due to be published later in the year.

https://twitter.com/cabinetofficeuk/status/515443634087677952

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-15

This Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons earlier in the summer. It is now due to be scrutinised by the Public Bill Committee, in a few weeks, on 16 October 2014.

If you have any relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Bill, the House of Commons Public Bill Committee is still receiving written evidence. For details click here.

From a procurement perspective, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills may have the right to draft regulations under the Bill to, in particular, impose—

  • duties to exercise procurement functions in an efficient and timely manner
  • duties on the process by which contracts are entered into (including timescales and the extent and manner of engagement with potential parties to a contract)
  • duties to make available information or documents without charge, and
  • duties relating to the acceptance of electronic invoices.

Do you have any thoughts on this? If so, you can submit your thoughts although anything over 3,000 words is frowned upon.

And if you have any thoughts generally on the above developments, feel free to drop us a line below.

Area of Interest